An 18-year-old girl who was bullied so badly her panic attacks stopped her from leaving her home, has overcome her anxiety and won the illustrious award in Edinburgh.
Amy Wilson, from Glasgow, recently won the Baillie and Gifford Young Ambassador Award at the Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards in Edinburgh.
The award recognises young people who have successfully completed a Prince’s Trust course and have volunteered their time, shared their personal experiences and inspired others.
Becoming involved with the Trust from the age of 16, it became her lifeline in a time when she couldn’t even attend school due to anxiety.
“I think it was a lot of things that brought the anxiety on. There was constant bullying, I was attacked when I was 14 on the school bus several times. I was really crippled, to the point where I couldn’t leave the house. When I did leave, it was only for therapy appointments.
“I was out of school for almost two years, and I decided I wanted to try and go back to school. It didn’t work and my anxiety became worse than ever - I think because of the negative connotation I had with being in school.
“I knew I didn’t just want to sit around anymore, I couldn’t just be afraid all the time. So I decided that I wanted to try beauty therapy - but because I didn’t have any qualifications at all, didn’t even have standard grades - it proved a challenge.
“My careers advisor said there’s a Get into Beauty programme that might give my application a boost, so I thought I might as well give it a go. I went along to the induction day, and around 12 of us were chosen out of 300 candidates. It was the first time they’d run this type of course - they’d done similar ones like Get into Media and other types - but this was the first beauty one.
“We were almost kind of guinea pigs - but it worked fantastically, all 12 of us finished the course and they’ve gone on to run a similar course.”
Amy was so grateful for the Prince’s Trust help, that she decided she wanted to keep working with them and asked about the different volunteer opportunities available.
“One of my mentors, Sarah, said that there was a Young Ambassadors program, and asked would I be interested in that. I thought it was fantastic so I put my name down for it.
“A few months passed before the inductions day, but in February this year I officially became a Young Ambassador.”
Young Ambassadors are role models, inspiring others through their personal experience of turning their lives around. They are young leaders who support The Trust in a range of ways, from inspiring other young people, to influencing public decision-makers and engaging donors and the media.
Only a year ago, Amy said she would have never been able to imagine herself becoming a Young Ambassador, having volunteered over 200 hours to The Trust. This includes giving a speech at a VIP reception for The Duke of Rothesay at Holyrood Palace.
“If someone had told me even just last March I was going to do the beauty program, get into college, volunteer with the Prince’s Trust and become a Young Ambassador, I would have said ‘No, you’re kidding on - no way’. I’ve enjoyed all the opportunities and all the support. They’ve just been really great.”
The Baillie Gifford Young Ambassador award recognises young people who are exceptional Young Ambassadors for The Trust, and Amy said winning it meant “absolutely everything” to her.
“It was such a shock to me - I really didn’t expect to get it. I was in tears, and shaking. It made me feel like all the hard work I had put in - not just as a Young Ambassador - but coming from that place where I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even go into town - coming from that place to where I am now, it made it all worth it. I really tried hard and turned my life around.
“I feel proud of myself.”
Amy has lots of young people who find themselves in similar situations asking her advice and she has one answer: go and find the Prince’s Trust.
“Don’t give up - I know it’s very clichéd to say that it gets better, but it truly does.”